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Wolverine Sells Off Military Shoe Business and Big Rapids Factory

Wolverine Worldwide announced Friday the sale of its business associated with the United Stated Department of Defense (DoD) to Tennessee-based footwear manufacturer, Original Footwear.

Also included in the sale is Wolverine’s recently refurbished factory in Big Rapids, Mich., which acts as one of the largest producers of footwear to the U.S. military.

Original Footwear specializing in products for the Department of Defense under the Altama brand. The company also owns Original S.W.A.T and Ro-Search brands. The company qualifies as a “small business” under the Small Business Administration regulations, which allows it access a number of contracts not available to large corporations like Wolverine.

Wolverine was a big proponent of the passing of the Defense Bill late last year, which acted as a boon for American-made footwear. Wolverine says the sale will “improve the future viability of the Big Rapids factory operations.”

Original Footwear will become a footwear supplier to Wolverine for certain products currently made in the Big Rapids factory. Wolverine will retain the Bates brand and will continue to operate the Bates civilian and military exchange business.

“The sale to Original Footwear will provide the opportunity for the Big Rapids factory to compete for Department of Defense contracts set aside for small businesses,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine chairman, CEO and president. “We firmly believe that the sale of the Big Rapids factory and the DoD business to Original Footwear is in the best interest of the Big Rapids operations. With new ownership, we feel the factory is better positioned to win additional contracts that will retain important manufacturing jobs for the community.”